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John Tomlinson, Mayor, Dana Point
John Tomlinson, Mayor, Dana Point

Guest Opinion: By John Tomlinson, Mayor, Dana Point

With the ongoing debate about parking in the Town Center/Lantern District—and regardless of your position on the initiatives that will come before the voters on June 7—I thought that it would be appropriate to provide an overview of the proposed Parking Program. This program is now before the California Coastal Commission for consideration.

The adopted Town Center Plan (now the Lantern District Plan) was developed over 30 months and 30 public meetings with Dana Point residents and community stakeholders. It was approved unanimously by the California Coastal Commission and included an implementation program that specifically required the city to develop a parking program that supports the intended mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly district. The resulting Parking Program includes the creation of new parking standards as well as a parking management strategy to maximize the use of underutilized private parking lots for public shared-use.

The development of the Parking Program involved a robust public review process, very similar to the Town Center Plan process. It commenced in 2013 with a Planning Commission study session followed by multiple public meetings with residents, business owners and Coastal Commission staff. As a result of those meetings, Nelson/Nygaard, an internationally recognized expert in parking management, prepared a parking report for the city. Once created, an additional set of meetings were held with interested stakeholders from 2014 through 2015, when it was ultimately adopted.

In response to Nelson/Nygaard’s recommendation, the city started negotiations with private property owners to secure the available underutilized parking spaces in the Lantern District. As a result of these negotiations, the city has secured access to 73 formerly private parking spaces, including those recently acquired at the U.S. Post Office, which is centrally located on Del Prado Avenue. These spaces will be converted to new shared public parking spaces. City staff continues to engage in active negotiations for additional parking to meet our short-term need, until such time as the Lantern District commercial core can economically support a public parking district.

Finally, discussions are also underway with a valet parking provider to maximize use of private parking spaces in the area north of Del Prado and Amber Lantern. In addition, Uber and Lyft drop off/pick up locations are being identified to ease use of their services for patrons of the area.

The city is working hard to implement the Town Center Plan/Lantern District Plan on behalf of our residents. I hope this has helped to clear up any misconceptions regarding the city’s Parking Program in our emerging Lantern District.

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comments (2)

  • Parking garages/lots should be underground, and at the cost of developers & commercial building owners who want to do business in Dana Point. (For example, San Juan Capistrano & Santa Monica have figured out how smart it is to go underground.) The Lantern District doesn’t even serve a large number of DP residents, or do much to help the residents here. Uber/Lyft stations are nice, but that isn’t for your local residents – that’s to promote tourists from other towns. That’s a high-end bus stop, if we’re being honest. Is the longterm goal to be more like Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach? I think I’m with other residents are simply confused what DP’s long term intention is with the Lantern District. And when does it stop so you can do something about other gnarly areas inside the city limits? Doheny Village and the Harbor both need your attention. The District Area is becoming a spot that many locals resent vs. embrace.

    Instead of being so pro-parking lots, why not bike rental stations, and more bike storage? It would be amazing to have PCH more bike friendly (not just cyclists, but for families, cruiser bikes, etc.) That will also make the town more pedestrian friendly. Why not a Lantern District Park (not parking) on some of the vacant lots with GRASS. Or some type of green planting! We could use a little more softness instead of more structure, Mayor. Some genuine respect for cultivating town culture & history as development continues would be much appreciated – and spreading the love around to the REST of Dana Point.

  • Really, a valet parking provider? That is your plan? How about the developers that stand to profit from the development, follow the original plan!
    Your plan is utterly ridiculous!

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